Argentina // The Lake District //

Parque Nacional Lanín

Formed in 1937, PARQUE NACIONAL LANÍN protects 420 square kilometres of Andean and sub-Andean habitat that ranges from barren, semiarid steppe in the east to patches of temperate Valdivian rainforest pressed up against the Chilean border. To the south, it adjoins its sister park, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, while it also shares a boundary with Parque Nacional Villarrica in Chile.

The park’s raison d’être and geographical centrepiece – the cone of Volcán Lanín – rises to 3776m and dominates the entire landscape. Meaning “choked himself to death” in Mapudungun, it is now believed to be extinct. The park’s other trump card is the araucaria, or monkey puzzle tree, which grows as far south as Lago Curruhue Grande, but is especially prevalent in the northern sector of the park, an area known as the Pehuenia region. As well as the araucaria, other tree species endemic to the park are the roble pellí and the raulí, both types of deciduous Nothofagus southern beech. Parque Lanín also protects notable forests of coihue and, in the drier areas, cypress. Flowers such as the arvejilla purple sweet pea and the introduced lupin abound in spring, as does the flame-red notro bush. Fuchsia bushes grow in some of the wetter regions.

As for fauna, the park is home to a population of huemules, a shy and rare deer. Pudú, the tiny native deer, and pumas are present, but rarely seen: you’re more likely to glimpse a coypu, a grey fox or two species introduced for hunting a century ago, the wild boar and the red deer, which roam the semiarid steppes and hills of the east of the park. Birdwatchers will want to keep an eye out for the active White-throated treerunner, a bizarre bird with an upturned bill adapted for removing beech nuts, while the acrobatic Thorn-tailed rayadito is another regional speciality.